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Title: Nancy Wightman, Oakland to John Arnold, Belfast.
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileWightman, Nancy/12
SenderWightman, Nancy
Sender Genderfemale
Sender OccupationSunday school teacher
Sender ReligionProtestant
OriginOakland, Alabama, USA
DestinationBelfast, N.Ireland
RecipientArnold, John
Recipient Gendermale
SourceD/1771: Presented by Mrs A. E. Arnold, Cheam, Surrey.
ArchiveThe Public Record Office, Northern Ireland.
Doc. No.9705310
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, 23:05:97.
Word Count1986
TranscriptOakland July 24th 1845

My dear friends
You may imagine how truly welcome your kind
letter was to me, containing so much of real interest to my
heart and being, and being the only direct communication I
have received of the state of the Alfred Street Sunday
School since I left Ireland. I shall not dwell on the
accompanying address, I regret that I can only appropriate a
part of it myself, but I value it highly as an instance of
the love + [and?] charity of my fellow labourers in the
Alfred St. School. I was most happy to hear that Doctor
Edgar and his family when you wrote I am certain all his good
designs will succeed, which have been the subject of prayers
and are in accordance with God's will. The power of man cannot
thwart them. I trust the Congregation is increasing, and that
he is adding to the "Church" of such as shall be saved".
It would take many letters to give you even a brief account
of all that has happened me since we parted, and permit me now
to say, that I afterwards regretted that you were out the
evening I called previously to my departure. I naturally
became attached to this country during my long residence of
fifteen years, although far from the land of my birth. Yet
I hope it is the land of my second birth and I have at times
enjoyed unspeakable peace in believing, but I still mourn that
I have not a more abiding sense of the pardon of my sins.
I am now residing on a Plantation, about seven miles from
Florence. I was intimately acquainted with Mr & Mrs
Collin before I went to Ireland, and always regarded
Mr C. [Collin?] from the time he professed Religion as a
truly changed man. Mrs Collin is a Scotch lady and of a
more lively spirit, and fond of society. They have four
Daughters, the oldest (Clara), is fond of study, though only
eleven years of age, is far advanced in English, and I expect
her to leave me soon to complete her education, the two next
in age, are most interesting children, in addition to them I
have three little girls whose Father is a neighbouring Planter.
They are not so smart, but very good children indeed they are
all so obedient and kind hearted that I have great reason to be
contented and thankful and on Sabbath evenings I am permitted
to collect all the coloured folks I can, both old + [and?]
young, to teach + [and?] during the warm weather we will
congregate under the shade of the trees. As I have only
taught here for three evenings, I shall not give any report
but I labour all alone and I expect you will sometimes think
of me, + [and?] offer up a petition that the Lord will help
my feeble efforts and send the Holy Spirit to "canni[?] of sin",
and lead to Jesus as the Saviour of Sinners, a Methodist
Preahcer, who, I think is a good man, came once a month,
Mr C. [Collins?] would wished to have him more frequently,
but his time is too much engaged to permit. I want to
hear him catechize the Children & Preach. I was a
little acquainted with him, and when Service was over he
greeted me as a Sister and we had some conversation about
the book. The meeting was literally by the wayside, under
the shade offered by a clump of trees, but Mr C. [Collin?]
is anxious to get his neighbours to assist in building a
suitable place for worship. Last Winter I taught school
in Taschania which is situated about four miles on the
other side of the Tennepu. This
was then the only work I have ever enabled to do in any
degree to my own satisfaction. I always thought it would
be a very arduous undertaking, but I had a number of most
lovely, healthy Christians, some of whom had been well
trained by their former teachers. The time allotted for
teaching flew over quickly and many of their Parents
appeared quite satisfied with their progress after I had
been there however, about two months the
[th.....ing?] cough seized one after another 'ere I opened the
second session in January, Mrs Collin came over and requested
me to come to her when it was closed, of course I made my
intention to leave known, still I had as many scholars as I
wished; the convalescent returned with the assistance of the
oldest girl in the school who was preparing for a teacher I got
along pleasantly, she was in limited circumstances and studied
until 12 Ock [o'clock?]. The evenings are usually sultry and
children have more annoyances to contend against than in
Ireland but they were of a joyous spirit and in Spring they
delighted to bring me --------? [bouquets?] of their choicest
flowers. I imagined a considerable moral improvement &
quickness in discussing what was good or evil and I had my
heart as much engaged in their welfare as if they had been my
Sunday School class. I was sorry to leave them, but my
expenses were much greater than you would suppose and I was
far removed from my dearest friends. I hoped also to do more
good to the coloured people in the plantation. I taught them
regularly in my school room in Tascumbia. I never could
collect many in the morning and for a time discontinued meeting
them. I realized that my strength was equal to my day and
often taught for four hours without suffering more from fatigue
than I did at your school, you will say the time was too
protracted that I made it a point to be to be first [sh.....?]
and taught them as [------?] is and I never permitted any to
depart without some instruction, their attendace was so
irregular that it seemed almost like scattering seed on the
wind. I am sorry to hear that Mrs Arnold was complaining of
her head. I hope she takes all reasonable care of her health.
I have been so much distressed with my own head that I know
how to sympathize with her and I think I acted wrong in not
using some means for my remedy but I concluded my case was
hopless, my head often felt as if lead was [------?] in it
and I cannot describe the singular confusion of ideal and
[---plexity?] I had to make myself intelligible or write a few
sentences correctly, I was seldom conscious of having the
least moisture on my skin even in crowded meetings where
others suffered from heat. This climate has softened my
rugged nature, although I never perspire as much as others.
The awful thunderstorms once again become familiar to me
during the summer months the thermometer ranges from 80 to 90
degrees, it is seldom more than three weeks from 90 to 100.
Hitherto we have had cool nights. I cannot live with any
comfort without night air. I awake feverish and with violent
headache. A disease prevails in this Climate called Bronketos
[Bronchitis?] Public speakers especially are more subject to
it, but an epidemic now prevails affecting the throat, which
has ted great alarm, numbers of the negroes have died of it,
a few slight cases have appeared on this Plantation. The
sickly season has not yet commenced. I trust the Lord will
spare useful lives.
I shall always rejoice to hear of your happiness & when
leisure permits even a few lines would be most acceptable.
You will please give my love to Mrs Arnold, your little family
will claim much of your mutual care, may they prove a blessing
to you and the Church. Will you be so kind as to present my
cordial congratulations to the newly married members of your
Church though late they are very sincere. Mr and Mrs
McNinch[?], Dr and Mrs Moffet and Mr and Mrs Magill, of the
first mentioned I heard a whisper before I left Ireland. I am
sure Dr Edgar was much pleased with this accession to his
Church, events of this kind are highly honoured in this
country, they have a great many elegant parties given to them.
I should be happy to hear how Mr Gibson & his family
are, Elizabeth & Sarah will be quite grown, Mary was an
engaging little girl. Please remember me to Mrs Boyd, Misses
Sloane &c. That the Lord may light you in [---?] Basket &
Store and make you an instrument in doing much good
the sincere desire of your friend
Nancy Wightman

A few evenings since I was seated with a friend at an open
window after a heavy fall of rain [------?] flash of lightning
passed between us, the peal of thunder that succeeded seemed
as if it would rend the house. A tree near to us was struck.
If we were prepared for death it would be a happy transition.
It is singular that we can be such thoughtless creatures,
standing on the very brink of Eternity. The Lord is gracious
and long suffering towards us. As I [came?] up the Mississippi
I was sitting at the door of my room which commanded a view of
the scenery on the banks of the River. I saw the forked
lightning shoot [down?] the heavens, after the thunder ceased I
went to the Ladies cabin, they pointed to a tree on the
oppostite bank of the River which had been struck, we had then
passed it a little way but I saw smoke issuing from it and I
was both conscious of feeling heat on my face at the time the
lightning flashed.
The fourth of July is a day of Jubilee for the Sunday School
children. They assembled in our own Church, then repair to the
Methodist where the Oration is delivered preceeded by the
oldest Sunday School teacher carrying a flag with the national
devices + [and?] the inscription "The Field is the World",
from thence they proceeded to a shady spot where a profusion
of refreshments were spread out provided by the friends and
parents of the Children. The day I was present at the feast
was closed with sacred music. I have often assisted the
Children in studying their Sunday School lesson and considering
"the Union Question" admirably calculated to lead both the
teacher and the scholar to a faithful investigation of the
Truth and I have often mentioned to you that I never felt so
well prepared for my work under your system. It is not
necessary that the teacher should be fettered by them but they
received most useful hints from which they can enlarge as the
Spirit gives them utterance. I found Mr Biggan still
Superintendent of the Sunday School. He is from the
neighbourhood of Belfast and served his time with Mr Neil.
Here they only teach in the morning and in the evening
Mr B. [Biggan?] attends a cotton factory about two miles from
here. You will remember me to all my friends in the
Congregation and give my love to Mrs and Miss Burnside. I
wrote to the latter and look in vain for a letter. I enclose
the receipts for the Sunday School Journal. I did not take a
note of the money you gave me but if I am in your debt let me
know and I shall send Mr Magill some scraps for his little
flock, should you be a few cents in my debt plese purchase a
tract or book for the library. I always thought Mr Craig would
fill some distinguished place in the Church.
Again I am yours

As I have a niece in Florence of the same name please direct
c/o Mr John McAlester, Florence, Alabama, United States.

4p. HOL. Signed. ADD. "Mr John Arnold, High Street,
Belfast, Ireland". ENDd. per Packet Ship.
Postmarked Liverpool Ship.